Sr Helena and I are about to head out on our "fishing trip" to the Institute on Religious Life Conference... But that's not the fishing trip I mean in my title. I'm really talking about the Gospel for today, the sixth day of Easter, exactly one week from Good Friday. It's a great story, and the continuation is even better. Maybe that is why I kind of never noticed that in this story, a double or even triple-header about the Risen Jesus in Galilee, there seems to be a hint of the mission of the Church in terms that are not what we traditionally associate with that mission.
The first reading has Peter assure us that outside of the name of Jesus, "no other name has been given to human beings by which they are to be saved." Some have recently taken exception to this, claiming that it is imperialistic for Christians to believe that their Jesus is the one and only savior of the whole human race, and that we need to accept the "fact" that other religious groups have other very real saviors. To which the Gospel says, "Fuhgetaboutit." Even though people may never make it into the boat, it is still Jesus who is their salvation, and somehow he makes the Church, his Church, his Body, a part of the process. That's where the fishing trip in today's Gospel comes in. I mean, when we think of "apostles" and "fishing," most of us probably realize that the point is not getting more fish to market. It is bringing people to God. And bringing them in the "boat," the "barque of Peter," which is the Church. But in this story, the miraculously large catch of fish never makes it into the boat: it is just too big to haul in. The fish are brought to Jesus on the eternal shores, but only by being towed or dragged in behind the boat. This kind of "salvation" takes more effort, because there is the actual drag of the water among the fish; it is more laborious for those in the boat, but just as effective for the fish.